History, culture, environment part of enrichment program

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"Maybe that's what life is... a wink of the eye and winking stars." - Jack Kerouac

Just moments before I sat down to write this article, I met with a caregiver who has her husband in the program. He was diagnosed at 52 years old and yet she finds so much to celebrate. Believe me she is also very sad.

She told me that Memory Matters has been a huge part of helping her stay positive and to know she must live her life. She also shared that our program has enriched her husband's life, and when he is here she knows he is being loved and engaged in our activities.

This week I would like to share what Memory Matters is doing to enrich our programs. We have partnered with both the Coastal Discovery Museum and a local chapter of the Girl Scouts of America. Talk about fun and engaging programs - we have hit the jackpot!

Folks at the museum have great plans for our participants. Our first presenter did a program on Civil War history. Everyone in the room was in tune and engaged.

Future programs include the staff helping us with a butterfly garden, virtual walks to learn about the beach and salt marsh, sweet grass basket demonstrations, and discovering reptiles and amphibians. The staff even brings a baby alligator with them!

You know how I love intergenerational programs. The Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina are providing us with about 12 young ladies, ages 12 to 17, this summer to help in our programs.

Not only will they contribute to Memory Matters, but in return we will provide a nurturing environment to promote strong values, leadership skills, social conscience, and conviction about their own potential and self-worth that will serve them all their lives. It is truly a win-win.

Why am I sharing all this with you? One of the first questions I ask when I meet with a family is "What is a typical day like for your loved one?"

Answers range from "He sleeps a lot" to "She would watch TV all day if I let her." When I mention the programs, a typical response is "Oh, he/she would never come here." And my response is "Why don't we just try a trial day and see what happens?"

A mistake some caregivers make is over-explaining things to their loved ones and expecting them to understand and to make a decision on their own. This is asking too much of them.

Fewer words, tone of voice, and even body language play crucial roles in communicating with your loved one and, one hopes, getting positive results.

Our programs are designed for just that - positive results, engagement and social interaction.

I want to thank everyone who called and emailed me about my last article. It certainly hit a chord with many and my hope is always that my words help others through this journey.

Let us help. Make an appointment with one of our memory care specialists by calling 843-842-6688. Also visit our website at www.memory-matters.org.

Karen Doughtie is assistant director of Memory Matters, serving Bluffton and Hilton Head. karen@memory-matters.org

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